Stefanie Röhnisch wants her serene scenes to make you feel comfortable with solitude
Comprised of organic shapes and structures, the Berlin-based illustrator looks to nature, communication and solitude as inspiration for her charming work.
- Olivia Hingley
- 25 January 2022
Stimulated by the simplicity of everyday life, illustrator Stefanie Rönisch keeps a sketchbook on her person at all times. Mostly documenting people and “trivial things that can be full of meaning”, she wants to capture individuals' small idiosyncrasies. Later, as Stefanie goes through her sketchbook, she’ll then use images she gets “stuck on” as inspiration for a simple sketch, her next piece, or even her next series.
A question Stefanie regularly asks when beginning the planning or drawing stage is “what kind of methods are people using to communicate and express themselves?” Often getting caught up on such deliberations, the illustrator usually comes to the same conclusion – the face and hands are the root of all communication. It’s for this reason that there is always a human element in her works. Distinctive faces – which sit between the abstract and realistic – are so meaningful in their ability to subtly depict expressions and feelings. Furtive shy glances, lazy content smiles and looks of deep adoration all come across beautifully, for instance. And her hands, oversized with long, elegant fingers rest across her subjects' mouths, daintily pick a flower or delicately caress another pair, always indicative of human tactility.
But while Stefanie is clearly talented at depicting close human connections, she also wants her work to champion solitude and calm seclusion. So much so, that her whole final graduation project was entirely based around the feeling.
Always attracted to ideas of isolation, she “explored different angles, found gestures and symbols that attracted the feeling without showing it too much” and, whilst her work always centres on characters, the project’s intention was to capture an “atmosphere”. Whilst common associations with solitude may veer toward the negative (especially after the past few years we’ve had!) Stefanie tells us that throughout the project “a positive view on the subject was particularly important and enriching to me.” Stefanie’s pieces, with lone figures, looking meditative in a big blue pool, or calmly gardening, perfectly portray her positive perceptions of seclusion. Overall, the illustrator wants you to feel and cherish the whole spectrum of your emotions – even ones you may have been taught not to enjoy.
With her pieces featuring luscious gardens and tall towering birch trees, it’s no surprise that Stefanie is also inspired by nature. Her interest in all things natural she sees as also influencing her methodology. Born and raised in Berlin, Stefanie originally moved to Kiel to study art history and European ethnology, before dropping out and instead studying communication design at the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts. It was only at university that she first began drawing, which “felt very natural in some ways, there was no pressure or too much thought about the process of drawing,” she says, “it was a way to experience and just be creative.” And now, never trying to force anything, she likes to let her style develop “naturally”. This primarily translates in her use of colour: “I don’t do any colour studies beforehand and try to use colour intuitively,” the illustrator continues. “I tell myself that by doing this, the work preserves something unexpected and the result will surprise me.” And importantly, this natural approach keeps Stefanie calm, “because I’m often overwhelmed when it comes to choosing between colours or even anything else.”
Most recently, Stefanie completed a project for the band Flamingo Sun, focusing on the fictional Flamingo Sun Holiday Resort. With her colourful, charming and sunny drawings, Stefanie’s style lends so well to the project. With the band having asked 12 artists from all over the world to submit their artwork, it will feature on various material from calendars, LP’s and even a zine – stay tuned to see how it turns out.
Stefanie Röhnisch: Gardener (Copyright © Stefanie Röhnisch, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.